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Difficulty II-III
Length 12 Miles
Gauge APALACHEE RIVER NEAR BOSTWICK, GA
Flow Range 175 - 6000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 41 minutes ago 40.9 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 09/26/2019 10:18 pm

River Description


Section 5, 441 to Trimble Bridge Road:

Shortly below 441 is Pot Leaf Shoals, a long rapid that was a great park and play spot until all roads leading to it were gated. In theory one could put-in at 441, float down to Pot Leaf Shoals, then paddle back upstream. Depending on the flows, Pot Leaf is class III-IV. Continuing downstream, the river de-evolves into swamps.  The first swamp is less than half a mile long and is early warning for what is to come. The river recombines into a single channel and you feel relieved but not for long. The 2nd swamp is 2-3 miles long, depending on the level and how lost you become. The river splits and recombines with abandon, creating a maze that has befuddled many a crew. Channels disappear into massive root strainers, forcing one to get out onto "islands" and scout for the nearest navigable channel. See below for some of the accounts of past expeditions.  To navigate the swamps the following advice is offered: go when vegetation is minimal (winter or early spring), go when the level is >1500 cfs at Bostwick, bring a GPS and a healthy sense of adventure. The 2nd swamp ends, with the river recombining into a single channel, right at Trimble Bridge Road.

Section 6, Trimble Bridge Rd to Hwy 278.

Continuing on to section 6, or putting in at Trimble Bridge, the river does flow quickly but with no shoals or swamps.  Do be aware of strainers. This section is abundant with wildlife and is bordered on river left by forest land and on river right by a conservation easement.

From GCA The Eddy Line, July 2003, is a historical account of trips through the swamps, assembled by Dick Hurd:

“In the May issue of The Eddy Line I offered a scouting report on the above river suggesting that there might be an interesting run from Hwy 441 to Lake Oconee. I had been scouting the river for canoe/camping suitability, and had approached every bridge crossing I could find, but had to rely heavily on old data from Sehlinger and Otey. Shortly after this report was published, I got some feedback from members who had tried this trip in the past and viewed it as a canoe trip from Hell! Both Doug Massey and Jeff Engel describe a river that becomes a swamp before reconstituting as a river just above Lake Oconee.

Two thoughts come to mind: There is nothing new under the sun, and those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it. I can only hope nobody took my advice! I have researched my Eddy Line archives, and discovered three reports of ill fated trips on the Apalachee. Jim Patsios reported a terrible experience from a trip on 11-19-1989, and Jay Palmer did likewise for a trip on 6-25- 1989. Both trips ended in the dark, long beyond their anticipated finish times. Dan Roper reported a similar cautionary tale in October, 1993.

So, by all accounts the rapids below 441 are a fun activity, but below that, only masochists need apply. Dan questioned whether S&O had really paddled that section, and Jay advised that S&O’s writing “merits the same degree of scrutiny as a contract from a used car dealer.” Be forewarned yourself. Within our club there is a lot of collective paddling experience, but distribution of that knowledge is a problem. There is no Eddy Line archive as such, but maybe there could and should be — the old issues contain a wealth of paddling and scouting reports.

By Dick Hurd
From The Eddy Line July 2003”

Some notes to add to the GCA Eddy Line account: Looking at historical flows for the Nov 1989 and 1993 trips, levels were at 500 cfs or lower. There is no flow data on the USGS site for the third trip (6/25/89).

In January 2016 , the Apalachee rose to 1500 cfs and was paddled from Hwy 86 to Lake Oconee (https://youtu.be/ua5DqYBnlLA). Both swamps were readily navigated, following a channel until it was blocked,  getting out and transitioning to the closest channel with water. The lack of vegetation helped to scout and navigate the swamp.

From Will Van de Berg about Pot Leaf Shoals: The gauge you are looking for is the Apalachee near Bostwick gauge and between 200-400 cfs for optimal play. Can definitely play it at both lower (absolute minimum is around 100 cfs) and higher levels, I have played there at around 3000 cfs and beyond, but it gets way more intense and is a huge, kind of flood stage feeling to it. The line to the right of the island opens up then and it has a GNARLY hole on river right that will keep you in it for a long while (I found this out myself one day) as well as some entrapment potential on the river left of it-- stay center for best results. At high flows, the wave mid rapid goes from being a small wave to a nice hole to, at really high flows, a great 6-7' surf wave. At higher flows, the blasting hole gets pretty unfun as the current shoves you into the rock on river left, making it more difficult to play in and at really high flows, this feature completely disappears. At between 200-400 cfs, the park and play spot is a blast, with surfing waves, a great blasting hole, a deep eddy line for flatwater moves, several splat spots, and other features that make it worthwhile to hit when in Athens. Not a destination boating location, but a great training spot for Athens area boaters.

Rapid Descriptions

Pot Leaf Shoals surfing wave

Class - Mile - 0.01
Fun little wave at low water but develops into fun but shallow play hole around 400 cfs. Above 1000 cfs, it turns back into a BIG trianglular steep wave that offers great surfing. However, at that level it has a pretty meaty hole that develops closely behind it on river left.

Apalachee surf Wave

Class - Mile - 0.01

Apalachee blasting hole

Class - II+ Mile - 0.01
Fun hole for blasts, blastwheels, etc but too shallow to throw ends in. Does have a rock on river left that your boat will hit when throwing blast wheels, but still plenty of fun from 175-400 cfs or so. Above 400 cfs, the hole gets pretty rough and all of the current throws you into the rock mentioned above pretty hard, making it real hard to do much blasting, etc. Great eddyline seam above and below the hole for squirts, flatwater wheels, etc.

Comments

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Alex Harvey
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1 month ago

I have been paddling and researching the Appalachee for the last few years. I would like to restructure the 3 reaches currently listed in the AW database with 4 sections. These would be labeled 2-5 and would go from Treadwell Bridge Road (just above Hwy 78) to Hwy 278 at Lake Oconee. This would encompass 36 miles. The restructure will enable updates to be made concerning access, rapids, dams and the infamous swamp. Sections 0, 1 would be reserved for the upstream reaches I have not paddled yet. The restructuring would be done so as to preserve existing information (comments, etc) for the 3 sections already in place. If you have comments, suggestions, please let me know. Thanks!

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Mike Powers
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6 years ago

I paddled this in a canoe with a friend some 30 years ago so I can't speak to the Hwy441 access as of 2013. What I can tell you is despite the terrain map look or the appearance of water on satellite, you CANNOT paddle from 441 to Lake Oconee. About 4-5 miles below shoals, water becomes swampy and it is that way for a couple miles...map shows a Timber Bridge Rd (dirt) and that is last thing that resembles a road for access. Go past the old iron bridge frame (visible in satellite image) and you are likely to be walking in a swamp with three feet of mud rather than paddling..

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8 years ago

I just went out to the shoals last weekend. The gate is still up on Old Madison Hwy, but I didn't see any no trespassing signs for the road there. It is clear the logging companies don't want you to trespass in the forests, but I think that is more to keep hunters out. The bridge access at 441 is still accessible from any side. The Madison county side has a concrete pad with a dirt road that leads under the bridge. I made it down with a 2wd truck, and there was a sedan already down there that made it out with no trouble. It looks like the best bet is to put in at the bridge and take out at the beach area below the shoals. You can park a car on Old Madison above the gate. Just be ready for a 1/4-1/2 mile hike uphill on a gravel road. I will post some pictures of the shoals. The water was low when I went, but it looks like it could be fun.

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8 years ago

The forum is a brighter place thanks to your posts. Thakns!

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10 years ago

Went this past weekend. Put in at Price Mill Road and paddled to 441 bridge. Bit of a long drag down a big hill at Price Mill, but wasnt bad. Water flowed well first 2-3 miles but then slowed down considerably. Flowing about 61 cfs I believe. Had to pick up and drag about 5 times. Took out at 441. Washouts on access were kinda rough, but a 2wd truck made it down. Would not want to attempt this aftter a rain though. We did not paddle down any farther than 441, but in my canoe guide it talks about a take out 1 mile past 441. Local sources tell me that there is a road that leads to the river there (Old Madison Hwy??), but a timber company has gated the road about 1/4 mile from river. To my knowledge the road is still public and it will be a long drag, but free to use. I dont know how they got approval to gate a public road? Kevin: I don't think they got approval; they just did it and it hasn't been challenged yet. Pot Leaf shoals was a classic park and play spot.

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10 years ago

Went looking for access today and found that most all roads leading anywhere near the playspot are gated and locked. Might be accessable from bridge on 441 but otherwise no other roads open to public.

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Jason Robertson
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14 years ago

AW received a report today 12/8/04 that the access to this section has been closed.

"I found on your web site a cool play spot on the Appalachee River that is close enough to get in my boat and get wet without driving far. Well, I went there today and a person has bought all the land from the bridge on 441/129 all the way down and has posted several gates with the Classic "NO Trespassing" signs. I talked with locals and he does not live there, but to be safe in the backwoods of Georgia I would rather not take my chance with the law. I thought I would try further upstream, but there would be no way to hike my boat out without stepping on this guys property due to the fact that he bought both sides of the river."

If you have more information, please notify AW at kevin@amwhitewater.org.

Gage Descriptions

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Directions Description


Put-in at 441, parking on the ROW, river right on the upstream side of the road. 

There is no longer a way to park and play at Pot Leaf Shoals due to the road being gated and posted.

Take out at Trimble Mill Bridge, either river left or right. Note that the Bridge is no longer there so navigate appropriately. 

For section 6, put-in at Trimble Bridge and take out at Hwy 278. There is a clearing with a building on the west side of the bridge that can be used as a take out. The east side of the bridge also can be used. 

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Alex Harvey

Revisions

Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1207136 09/26/19 Alex Harvey updated name
1193650 09/26/19 Alex Harvey n/a
1199471 09/26/19 Alex Harvey Updated with unpleasant access info; added abstract.
1204185 09/26/19 Alex Harvey 201502
1213722 09/26/19 Alex Harvey updated description
1213723 09/26/19 Alex Harvey directions to the river
1213724 09/26/19 Alex Harvey updated stats
1213725 09/26/19 Alex Harvey updated stats
1213726 09/26/19 Alex Harvey updated description
1213727 09/26/19 Alex Harvey updated description
1213751 09/26/19 Alex Harvey updated description
1213752 09/26/19 Alex Harvey updated description